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Dear Nieces,

It’s not a surprise that I have something to say.  I always have something to say. But sadly, I don’t’ have any daughters of my own to pass on words of wisdom and I wanted to pass along to you my list of twenty things to help you be your best in life:

  1. Use eye cream. I wish someone had told me that when I was in my twenties.  So if you’re in your twenties now or once you turn twenty, make it a priority. You’ll thank me when you’re forty.
  2. Always write thank-you notes. I’m big on thank-you notes. You can do this as soon as you can write your name. Sure, email is nice, but a nice card or stationery is always special.

    Me and my red shoes at age 3

  3. Own a pair of red shoes.  This is a must no matter how old you are.  I had a pair of red shoes when I was 3 and it’s stuck with me ever since.
  4. Go to school. And keep going and going. Take classes to learn new things to make you a more interesting person. School always makes you a better person.
  5. Always smile! Learn this while you’re young.  When you go to a new school, smile! When you meet new boys, smile! When you go on a job interview, smile! When you smile it makes you more approachable and people are attracted to people who smile. Plus, when you smile it makes you a happier person.
  6. Don’t be a victim. I decided not to be a victim some time ago.  I once felt pretty picked on and my life was just sad–or so it seemed. At that time I was in my early 30s and one day wrote an email to my childhood piano teacher who I had become friends with and thought I was a little bit funny and acerbic in the email. But it apparently came across as bitter.  This wonderful person sent back to me in the mail a typed letter kindly upbraiding me about my attitude.  Ever since that day I changed my thinking and changed my life forever.
  7. Always carry an emory board with you.  My grandpa Davis taught me this.  Genius advice!
  8. Go abroad. I typically don’t have regrets, but the one regret I do have is that I didn’t study abroad when I was in college.  I love to travel now and I do quite a bit of it, but how wonderful it would have been if I had spent a semester in Italy or England and fully immersed myself in another culture. Remember, the world is bigger than where you are right now.
  9. Don’t waste time. Don’t get sucked in to all the technology around you. (Gaming, Facebook, etc.) Enough said.
  10. Wear a high SPF in the sun.  Like the eye cream, you’ll thank me later.
  11. Be kind to your parents. When I was in junior high my uncle came to visit our family and I gave up my room to him while I slept on the couch. He was visiting for about a week and I don’t recall exactly what happened but apparently I must have been talking back to my parents during the time of his visit. After he had left and I moved back into my room I noticed a handwritten note that he had left for me, counseling me to be kinder to my parents. I was ashamed, of course, but I respected my uncle and his advice and after that point I didn’t talk back to my parents again.
  12. Learn to give hugs.  I’m not a “huggy” person but it seems as though there are gobs of people out there who like to hug.  When I went to college it seemed all the girls in the dorm liked to hug, my roommates included.  I’m not good at it even now.  But I don’t duck or run away anymore when “huggy” people start to approach me with a hug.  It’s still kind of weird to me.  (Just know that I’m working on this too.)
  13. Quit eating processed foods. Eat real food!  Too many chronic illnesses today seemed to be the result of years and years of processed food.  When you get to be old and fortysomething you’ll wish you had been eating fruits and vegetables all your life.
  14. Be gracious.  Say, “thank you,” and “please,” and always think that people have good intentions before you think they have bad intentions.  Trust me, you will be happier.  (See #6 above, “Don’t be a victim.”)
  15. Learn how to spell and learn how to write well.  I’m afraid all this texting and emailing has made us all very lazy writers. If you can be a great writer and communicator it will open up doors for you.
  16. Go see an Opera.  Come on, I really mean it.  At least once in your life you should go see an opera so your spine can tingle during the show-stopping aria.
  17. Learn how to make a béchamel sauce. My mother (or was it Dad?) taught me how to make this.  Essentially, it’s a white sauce that’s a base for so many things.  If you can master this (and it’s easy!) it will get you out of a pickle numerous times down the road.
  18. Be on time.  For crying out loud, you want to be on time. Being on time makes you reliable.
  19. Buy a Mac, not a PC. You’ll thank me later.
  20. Be brave. Do something bold every day. Get out of your comfort zone and be willing to make mistakes.

Well, that’s my advice for all of you sweet nieces. We’re far away from each other but I hope that the lessons I’ve learned can be useful to you. Lastly, have fun in life and make it your best life ever.

Love, Aunt Lisa